Living as a Christian in the midst of the new totalitarianism, Part II

Last Sunday I wrote about a whole group of people (namely those who have bought into the pro-abortion, pro-LGBT ideology) as inherently untrustworthy because of a radically distorted view of reality. In contemporary parlance this may seem ‘judgmental’, ‘intolerant’, ‘hateful’, and ‘divisive’, though in reality it is no more than an honest recognition of a very real division. I also affirmed that unlike Marxists we must respond to evil with patience and hope, not giving way to hatred for our enemies, but praying for them, believing that by the grace of God true conversion is possible.

Something more needs to be said on this subject.

A bad apple is a bad apple: that is a very objective statement and there is nothing ‘judgmental’ involved because the bad apple has no responsibility for its condition.

When it comes to persons, however, we can speak either ‘objectively’ or ‘subjectively’, but we have developed a bad habit of speaking and understanding almost exclusively from a ‘subjective’ point of view.

What does this mean?

We could speak objectively about a ‘bad person’ as someone who engages in bad actions, or we could speak subjectively about a ‘bad person’ as someone who acts with bad intent. The latter sort of judgement is the sort of judgment that Christ warns us against, but it is readily confused with the former sort of judgment. You see, we cannot really know the degree of responsibility a person has for his bad way of thinking and acting. We do not know the degree to which he is deceived, ignorant, mentally ill, cowardly, timid, complicit, or malicious. That he is acting badly we very often can know and judge.

It is important to call out ‘bad actors’ and indeed it is done, but by the wrong standard. For example, today we are told that ‘slut shaming’ is wrong. The problem is that if ‘sluts’ are held in honor and treated with respect, that is unjust towards decent and chaste women. If chastity is publicly held in honor, then necessarily there will be some degree of ‘slut shaming’. The ‘fallen woman’ must not be regarded as irredeemable, but should be helped to change her ways and recover her ‘honor’, but no one does her a service by treating her as though her conduct were honorable.

In any case, I have effectively declared that those who have bought into the pro-abortion, pro-LGBT way of thinking (and much more those who actively support it) are ‘bad actors’. That would include the President of the United States, the Vice-President, and the Speaker of the House, among others. It would effectively include one of the major political parties.

We need to recognize that basic objective fact.

Nevertheless, while we must recognize and call out the bad actors, we must also have the generosity to recognize when they do something good. No human being is “pure evil”.

Further, there are varying degrees of involvement and complicity in the pro-abortion, pro-LGBT corruption.

Objectively there is a huge different between the real leaders of the ‘movement’, the political hacks, the loyal followers, the ‘hangers on’, the cowardly complicit, and the ignorant dupes.

We can be sure that some of those involved know very well what they are doing, but that would be hard to affirm in a particular case. More common would be varying degrees of ignorance, deception, ambition, compromise, and cowardice.

How many well-meaning people find themselves in a position of power or influence, maybe modest, maybe of greater import, who compromise with evil, not out of cowardice, but thinking that it is necessary to continue achieving the good they think their position involves?

It is a mistaken way of thinking that in the case of abortion and LGBT vastly underrates the greatness of the evil, while overrating the greatness of the desired good they are trying to accomplish. This happens when Catholics have voted for strong pro-abortion candidates because they think they have a strong commitment to good economic policies. It can even be that politicians have supported pro-abortion policies, thinking it necessary to get elected, hold office, and do the good they otherwise think needs to be done. There are also Catholic bishops and priests who have been rather soft on these issues, sometimes out of a false sense of compassion, sometimes for a fear of being regarded as ‘judgmental’, sometimes because of a misplaced sense of priorities.

Then there are all the ordinary men and women, who have been led astray by the sexual revolution, caught up in disordered lives, but rather than truly being helped, they are affirmed by the ideology of the public culture. Their responsibility may be quite limited, but their suffering is very real. Some few who escape try to speak up but are shouted down by the powerful who have control of the ‘megaphones’ of technology.

We must respond to the objective evil and its perpetrators with clear thinking, strength, and conviction, while recognizing the subjective differences and showing patience and compassion towards all, praying for all.

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Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.